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University of San Francisco School of Law professor Peter Jan Honigsberg turned to his three kids, then teen-agers, for peer review of one of his latest books. But even they seemed too old. Honigsberg, 58, then went out looking for 6, 7, and 8-year-olds to get the feedback he wanted. “If kids are not interested they start playing and walk away,” he says. Honigsberg, who also wrote “The Unemployment Benefits Handbook, Your Legal Guide to Unemployment Insurance,” and “Crossing Border Street: A Civil Rights Memoir,” recently penned “Pillow of Dreams” — a children’s book about the lesson Newberry Mole learns after he steals Margaret Bunny’s magic pillow. A law professor at USF for more than a decade, Honigsberg has been writing children’s stories for about the last 20 years. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that he made a run at getting one of them published. “When I wrote ‘Pillow of Dreams,’ I showed it to a few friends and they thought I should pursue that more aggressively,” he says. Honigsberg called up Tony Morse — a graphic designer whose wife was piano teacher to the Honigsberg children — and asked if he’d be interested in illustrating the book. Morse agreed and started making illustrations of happily sleeping bunnies, moons drinking rivers and police raccoons. The two began looking for a publisher, and ended up signing with RDR Books in Oakland, Calif. Honigsberg gave the book to a handful of professors and staff at USF law school he knew who have kids, but guesses that about two-thirds of the faculty don’t even know it exists. Professor Joshua Rosenberg gave the book to his daughter Katy, who was 8 years old at the time. “I thought she was past picture books long ago, but this one’s really stuck on her,” Rosenberg says. “And then when I told her I could get the author’s autograph, she was delighted.” While Honingsberg has taught courses for years on legal writing, he says there’s no crossover between his writing for children and his writing on law. “This is an entirely different side of me,” he says. “You can go into fanciful situations and for kids that’s totally normal; on some level that’s how they see the world until they get older.” The closest he says he comes to bringing the law into “Pillow of Dreams” happens in one of Newberry Mole’s dreams. Newberry wants to cook up a way to get rich, so he dreams that he robs a bank but is arrested and hauled off to jail. Newberry wakes up in a cold sweat before his crime enters the courtroom arena. “No lawyers,” Honigsberg says. “Lawyers are not in my children’s stories.” Honigsberg’s next children’s book, “Armful of Memories,” is set to come out in the fall from the same publisher. Newberry also appears in the new book, and while the author won’t explain what lesson the mole learns, he says it continues something he learned in the first book. In “Pillow of Dreams,” Newberry steals a pillow from Margaret Bunny that gives her fantastic dreams filled with angel bunnies and trips around the world. But all the pillow gives Newberry is nightmares. Newberry gives the pillow back to Margaret and finds happy dreams with his own pillow. He learns, as stated in the last line of the book, “that the only dreams worth having are the ones you can call your own.” A fine message for law students? “A fine message for everyone,” Honigsberg says.

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